It is to an organization’s benefit to think of the future, especially so when the present is going so well. With the San Francisco 49ers second in the NFC with a 7-1 record, they seem assured of a playoff spot. The downside to a good season is that it pushes the team further down the list in terms of draft.
Knowing the drawbacks of the team, most avid 49ers fans can dream of additions for 2012. So, with an eye on 49er needs based on 2011, here is the team’s mock 2012 draft.
If there was one lesson learned in the taking of NaVorro Bowman in the third round of the 2010 draft, it is not to let superior play at a position sway you away from taking another superior talent at the same position.
For the 49ers, the addition of the 330-pound nose tackle out of the University of Washington would add depth to an already deep team and provide current occupant Isaac Sopoaga some breathing room. Wide and strong, Ta’amu would keep opponents off the linebackers and clog the middle.
I can hear the cries now: Where’s the wide receiver? The Niners will be drafting too low to get an elite player like Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma or Brandon Floyd of Notre Dame. So it becomes an issue of cost-benefit analysis, which means they can get very near the same value at WR later in the draft.
Again, everyone cries for a receiver with deep speed, but the quarterback can’t throw downfield unless he has time. The 6’6” 320-pound tackle from Cal gets him that. Moreover, offensive linemen are the NFL’s equivalent of securities of deposit: You draft them, keep them and let them build as a unit. Having seven or eight of these guys ready to fill in at any position ensures offensive consistency.
Another Cal player, but one that’s overshadowed some by teammate Keenan Allen. At 6’2” and 202 pounds, he has the strength to play inside on the slot. That he’s also played with one of the most inaccurate throwers in the Pac-12 will be a benefit to him in the NFL, where catching the ball in positions that will lead to big hits is a common occurrence.
The Niners drafted a quarterback in 2011, why take another in 2012? Because in Kellen Moore, who could drop due to the fact that Andrew Luck, Matt Barkley and Landry Jones are all expected to come out and be drafted early, they get a proven winner under the auspices of Chris Peterson. He’s not that big nor his arm that strong, but Moore can manage the game, read coverages and beat blitz packages.
With the addition of Chris Culliver and the the return of Tramaine Brock, along with Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown, the 49ers are fairly deep at cornerback. A shutdown CB is a rare thing and Dre Kirkpatrick of Alabama or a Morris Claiborne of LSU will be gone before the Niners draft. That’s why, late in the draft, you might see Trumain Johnson of Montana. He’s 6’2” and 218, strong enough to hold off the large receivers.
George Iloka of Boise State (8) may not bring any surprises, but he’s a three-year starter for what many consider to be the best college coach in the game. By the time he’s done, he’ll have started 40 consecutive games for Peterson. Experience helps, and that means smart. Being 6’3” and nearly 220 pounds doesn’t hurt, either.
These are the guys who can run and hit. And with Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner playing well, it may not seem like the Niners need these players, but you never have enough fast, big bodies in the middle of the field.
T-Bob Hebert (53) of LSU is another hybrid – guard or tackle in college, so he’s another big body that can even play center. And, yes, he’s the son of former Saints QB Bobby Hebert, who had some of his best games against the 49ers. Call it the franchise’s revenge for all the havoc Bobby caused.